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BELUM (TEMENGOR FOREST RESERVE) BEING SET ASIDE FOR LOGGING
DATELINE 02 NOVEMBER 1998, LOCATION: TEMENGOR F.R., UPPER PERAK, MALAYSIA
Save Belum (from the MNS Selangor Branch Newsletter)
Hymeir, of the Malaysian Nature Society Kedah Branch, reports that on a trip made by some MNS members to Belum recently, were shocked to find that the area has been set aside for logging. They found notices nailed on trees stating that an area of 2,000 ha (yes, Two Thousand Hectares!) will be logged by Cenderla Ltd. The area to be logged is at Sungai Halong, the same area where MNS had the Belum Expedition (*MNS Scientific and Heritage Expedition) base camp and study area in 1993/94.
As far as they know no other places within Temengor Dam catchment is being logged. Why did the authorities decide to log now and why exactly at the expedition area, they asked? Besides the threat to biodiversity, the logging activities will also introduce higher sediment loads into the dam cutting short its life span, he adds. There is also an Orang Asli community living nearby which would be displaced.
Therefore, he would like to strongly urge all MNS members, their friends and families included, to write to the authorities particularly the Menteri Besar (Chief Minister) of Perak, Jabatan Perhutanan Negeri Perak and the Press (postal and email addresses given below) to express their concern over this latest development.
YAB Tan Sri Ramli Ngah Talib
Letters To The Editor
In particular, urge the authorities to cancel the logging permit and gazette Belum, (Temengor and Grik Forest Reserves) as a protected area. They question: why the expedition area, an area known to harbour unique plants and animals, is being logged? Ask why an important catchment area is being logged. Ask that consideration be given to the Orang Asli community living in the area.
This is an urgent matter which needs your support. Please write in as individuals, not as MNS members, they urged. Remember Batu Caves, Penang Hill and recently Tanjong Tuan (Cape Rachado)?, they added. (* These were areas in Malaysia which were threatened by development, but with protests from the public, MNS, etc, were saved from further destruction). Let Belum be among our successes too. Every letter or email counts. Help save Belum (*'Belum' is made up of 3 Forest Reserves, Belum, Temengor and Grik Forest Reserves) while we still have the time, he added.
Malaysian Nature Society,
Mike Chong adds: Apart from being proposed as a National Park, Belum, Temengor and Grik Forest Reserves is also known as one of the areas where large numbers of hornbills have been recorded. In 1995-97, I recorded more than 600 Wreathed Hornbills and more than 157 species of birds at the 3 Forest Reserves, in a survey. Presently more than 280 species of birds have been recorded at Belum, in surveys conducted during the MNS Belum Expedition 1993/94, Gregory-Smith (1992-93) and by Mike Chong (1995-96).
More than 1,000 Wreathed Hornbills were also recorded by Tungku Mohd.Nazim Yaacob in 1994 in the same area. The Temengor, Belum and Grik Forest Reserves therefore, represents a very important area for hornbills in Malaysia and is home to the largest populations of hornbills in this country. The bird diversity at over 285 species, is also very high and is comparable to Taman Negara National Park in Pahang. 'Belum' has not been throughly studied and therefore the diversity of birds may be as high if not higher than that of Taman Negara. It is imperative that the 3 Forest Reserves be conserved due to its importance in providing the habitats for a very large number of hornbills, birds and a variety of wildlife, such as Asian Elephants.